SENATE BILL 6196
State of Washington 55th Legislature 1998 Regular Session
By Senators Hargrove and Long; by request of Department of Social and Health Services
Read first time 01/13/98. Referred to Committee on Human Services & Corrections.
AN ACT Relating to technical clarifying changes to developmentally disabled children's out-of-home placement; and amending RCW 13.34.130, 74.13.350, 13.34.270, and 74.13.021.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 13.34.130 and 1997 c 280 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
If, after a fact-finding hearing pursuant to RCW 13.34.110, it has been proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the child is dependent within the meaning of RCW 13.34.030; after consideration of the predisposition report prepared pursuant to RCW 13.34.110 and after a disposition hearing has been held pursuant to RCW 13.34.110, the court shall enter an order of disposition pursuant to this section.
(1) The court shall order one of the following dispositions of the case:
(a) Order a disposition other than removal of the child from his or her home, which shall provide a program designed to alleviate the immediate danger to the child, to mitigate or cure any damage the child has already suffered, and to aid the parents so that the child will not be endangered in the future. In selecting a program, the court should choose those services that least interfere with family autonomy, provided that the services are adequate to protect the child.
(b) Order that the child be removed from his or her home and ordered into the custody, control, and care of a relative or the department of social and health services or a licensed child placing agency for placement in a foster family home or group care facility licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW or in a home not required to be licensed pursuant to chapter 74.15 RCW. Unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the safety or welfare of the child would be jeopardized or that efforts to reunite the parent and child will be hindered, such child shall be placed with a person who is related to the child as defined in RCW 74.15.020(4)(a) and with whom the child has a relationship and is comfortable, and who is willing and available to care for the child. Placement of the child with a relative under this subsection shall be given preference by the court. An order for out-of-home placement may be made only if the court finds that reasonable efforts have been made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the child's home and to make it possible for the child to return home, specifying the services that have been provided to the child and the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, and that preventive services have been offered or provided and have failed to prevent the need for out-of-home placement, unless the health, safety, and welfare of the child cannot be protected adequately in the home, and that:
(i) There is no parent or guardian available to care for such child;
(ii) The parent, guardian, or legal custodian is not willing to take custody of the child; or
The court finds, by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence, a manifest danger
exists that the child will suffer serious abuse or neglect if the child is not
removed from the home and an order under RCW 26.44.063 would not protect the
child from danger((
; or (iv)
The extent of the child's disability is such that the parent, guardian, or
legal custodian is unable to provide the necessary care for the child and the
parent, guardian, or legal custodian has determined that the child would
benefit from placement outside of the home)).
(2) If the court has ordered a child removed from his or her home pursuant to subsection (1)(b) of this section, the court may order that a petition seeking termination of the parent and child relationship be filed if the court finds it is recommended by the supervising agency, that it is in the best interests of the child and that it is not reasonable to provide further services to reunify the family because the existence of aggravated circumstances make it unlikely that services will effectuate the return of the child to the child's parents in the near future. In determining whether aggravated circumstances exist, the court shall consider one or more of the following:
(a) Conviction of the parent of rape of the child in the first, second, or third degree as defined in RCW 9A.44.073, 9A.44.076, and 9A.44.079;
(b) Conviction of the parent of criminal mistreatment of the child in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.42.020 and 9A.42.030;
(c) Conviction of the parent of one of the following assault crimes, when the child is the victim: Assault in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.011 and 9A.36.021 or assault of a child in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.120 or 9A.36.130;
(d) Conviction of the parent of murder, manslaughter, or homicide by abuse of the child's other parent, sibling, or another child;
(e) A finding by a court that a parent is a sexually violent predator as defined in RCW 71.09.020;
(f) Failure of the parent to complete available treatment ordered under this chapter or the equivalent laws of another state, where such failure has resulted in a prior termination of parental rights to another child and the parent has failed to effect significant change in the interim.
(3) Whenever a child is ordered removed from the child's home, the agency charged with his or her care shall provide the court with:
(a) A permanency plan of care that shall identify one of the following outcomes as a primary goal and may identify additional outcomes as alternative goals: Return of the child to the home of the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian; adoption; guardianship; or long-term relative or foster care, until the child is age eighteen, with a written agreement between the parties and the care provider; and independent living, if appropriate and if the child is age sixteen or older. Whenever a permanency plan identifies independent living as a goal, the plan shall also specifically identify the services that will be provided to assist the child to make a successful transition from foster care to independent living. Before the court approves independent living as a permanency plan of care, the court shall make a finding that the provision of services to assist the child in making a transition from foster care to independent living will allow the child to manage his or her financial affairs and to manage his or her personal, social, educational, and nonfinancial affairs. The department shall not discharge a child to an independent living situation before the child is eighteen years of age unless the child becomes emancipated pursuant to chapter 13.64 RCW.
(b) Unless the court has ordered, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, that a termination petition be filed, a specific plan as to where the child will be placed, what steps will be taken to return the child home, and what actions the agency will take to maintain parent-child ties. All aspects of the plan shall include the goal of achieving permanence for the child.
(i) The agency plan shall specify what services the parents will be offered in order to enable them to resume custody, what requirements the parents must meet in order to resume custody, and a time limit for each service plan and parental requirement.
(ii) The agency shall be required to encourage the maximum parent-child contact possible, including regular visitation and participation by the parents in the care of the child while the child is in placement. Visitation may be limited or denied only if the court determines that such limitation or denial is necessary to protect the child's health, safety, or welfare.
(iii) A child shall be placed as close to the child's home as possible, preferably in the child's own neighborhood, unless the court finds that placement at a greater distance is necessary to promote the child's or parents' well-being.
(iv) The agency charged with supervising a child in placement shall provide all reasonable services that are available within the agency, or within the community, or those services which the department of social and health services has existing contracts to purchase. It shall report to the court if it is unable to provide such services.
(c) If the court has ordered, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, that a termination petition be filed, a specific plan as to where the child will be placed, what steps will be taken to achieve permanency for the child, services to be offered or provided to the child, and, if visitation would be in the best interests of the child, a recommendation to the court regarding visitation between parent and child pending a fact-finding hearing on the termination petition. The agency shall not be required to develop a plan of services for the parents or provide services to the parents.
(4) If there is insufficient information at the time of the disposition hearing upon which to base a determination regarding the suitability of a proposed placement with a relative, the child shall remain in foster care and the court shall direct the supervising agency to conduct necessary background investigations as provided in chapter 74.15 RCW and report the results of such investigation to the court within thirty days. However, if such relative appears otherwise suitable and competent to provide care and treatment, the criminal history background check need not be completed before placement, but as soon as possible after placement. Any placements with relatives, pursuant to this section, shall be contingent upon cooperation by the relative with the agency case plan and compliance with court orders related to the care and supervision of the child including, but not limited to, court orders regarding parent-child contacts and any other conditions imposed by the court. Noncompliance with the case plan or court order shall be grounds for removal of the child from the relative's home, subject to review by the court.
(5) Except for children whose cases are reviewed by a citizen review board under chapter 13.70 RCW, the status of all children found to be dependent shall be reviewed by the court at least every six months from the beginning date of the placement episode or the date dependency is established, whichever is first, at a hearing in which it shall be determined whether court supervision should continue. The review shall include findings regarding the agency and parental completion of disposition plan requirements, and if necessary, revised permanency time limits.
(a) A child shall not be returned home at the review hearing unless the court finds that a reason for removal as set forth in this section no longer exists. The parents, guardian, or legal custodian shall report to the court the efforts they have made to correct the conditions which led to removal. If a child is returned, casework supervision shall continue for a period of six months, at which time there shall be a hearing on the need for continued intervention.
(b) If the child is not returned home, the court shall establish in writing:
(i) Whether reasonable services have been provided to or offered to the parties to facilitate reunion, specifying the services provided or offered;
(ii) Whether the child has been placed in the least-restrictive setting appropriate to the child's needs, including whether consideration and preference has been given to placement with the child's relatives;
(iii) Whether there is a continuing need for placement and whether the placement is appropriate;
(iv) Whether there has been compliance with the case plan by the child, the child's parents, and the agency supervising the placement;
(v) Whether progress has been made toward correcting the problems that necessitated the child's placement in out-of-home care;
(vi) Whether the parents have visited the child and any reasons why visitation has not occurred or has been infrequent;
(vii) Whether additional services are needed to facilitate the return of the child to the child's parents; if so, the court shall order that reasonable services be offered specifying such services; and
(viii) The projected date by which the child will be returned home or other permanent plan of care will be implemented.
(c) The court at the review hearing may order that a petition seeking termination of the parent and child relationship be filed.
Sec. 2. RCW 74.13.350 and 1997 c 386 s 16 are each amended to read as follows:
It is the intent of the legislature that parents are responsible for the care and support of children with developmental disabilities. The legislature recognizes that, because of the intense support required to care for a child with developmental disabilities, the help of an out-of-home placement may be needed. It is the intent of the legislature that, when the sole reason for the out-of-home placement is the child's developmental disability, such services be offered by the department to these children and their families through a voluntary placement agreement. In these cases, the parents shall retain legal custody of the child.
As used in this section, "voluntary placement agreement" means a written agreement between the department and a child's parent or legal guardian authorizing the department to place the child in a licensed facility. Under the terms of this agreement, the parent or legal guardian shall retain legal custody and the department shall be responsible for the child's placement and care. The agreement shall at a minimum specify the legal status of the child and the rights and obligations of the parent or legal guardian, the child, and the department while the child is in placement. The agreement must be signed by the child's parent or legal guardian and the department to be in effect, except that an agreement regarding an Indian child shall not be valid unless executed in writing before the court and filed with the court as provided in RCW 13.34.245. Any party to a voluntary placement agreement may terminate the agreement at any time. Upon termination of the agreement, the child shall be returned to the care of the child's parent or legal guardian unless the child has been taken into custody pursuant to RCW 13.34.050 or 26.44.050, placed in shelter care pursuant to RCW 13.34.060, or placed in foster care pursuant to RCW 13.34.130.
As used in this section, "out-of-home placement" and "out-of-home care" mean the placement of a child in a foster family home or group care facility licensed under chapter 74.15 RCW.
Whenever the department places a child in out-of-home care under a voluntary placement pursuant to this section, the department shall have the responsibility for the child's placement and care. The department shall develop a permanency plan of care for the child no later than sixty days from the date that the department assumes responsibility for the child's placement and care. Within the first one hundred eighty days of the placement, the department shall obtain a judicial determination pursuant to RCW 13.04.030(1)(j) and 13.34.270 that the placement is in the best interests of the child. If the child's out-of-home placement ends before one hundred eighty days have elapsed, no judicial review is required. The permanency planning hearings shall review whether the child's best interests are served by continued out-of-home placement and determine the future legal status of the child.
The department shall provide for periodic administrative reviews as required by federal law. A review may be called at any time by either the department, the parent, or the legal guardian.
Nothing in this section shall prevent the department from filing a dependency petition if there is reason to believe that the child is a dependent child as defined in RCW 13.34.030.
The department shall adopt rules providing for the implementation of chapter 386, Laws of 1997 and the transfer of responsibility for out-of-home placements from the dependency process under chapter 13.34 RCW to the process under this chapter.
Sec. 3. RCW 13.34.270 and 1997 c 386 s 19 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Whenever the department of social and health services places a developmentally disabled child in out-of-home care pursuant to RCW 74.13.350, the department shall obtain a judicial determination within one hundred eighty days of the placement that continued placement is in the best interests of the child. If the child's out-of-home placement ends before one hundred eighty days have elapsed, no judicial review is required.
(2) To obtain the judicial determination, the department shall file a petition alleging that there is located or residing within the county a child who has a developmental disability, as defined in RCW 71A.10.020, and that the child has been placed in out-of-home care pursuant to RCW 74.13.350. The petition shall request that the court review the child's placement, make a determination that continued placement is in the best interests of the child, and take other necessary action as provided in this section. The petition shall contain the name, date of birth, and residence of the child and the names and residences of the child's parent or legal guardian who has agreed to the child's placement in out-of-home care. Reasonable attempts shall be made by the department to ascertain and set forth in the petition the identity, location, and custodial status of any parent who is not a party to the placement agreement and why that parent cannot assume custody of the child.
(3) Upon filing of the petition, the clerk of the court shall schedule the petition for a hearing to be held no later than fourteen calendar days after the petition has been filed. The department shall provide notification of the time, date, and purpose of the hearing to the parent or legal guardian who has agreed to the child's placement in out-of-home care. The department shall also make reasonable attempts to notify any parent who is not a party to the placement agreement, if the parent's identity and location is known. Notification under this section may be given by the most expedient means, including but not limited to, mail, personal service, telephone, and telegraph.
(4) The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child as provided in RCW 13.34.100, unless the court for good cause finds the appointment unnecessary.
(5) Permanency planning hearings shall be held as provided in this subsection. At the hearing, the court shall review whether the child's best interests are served by continued out-of-home placement and determine the future legal status of the child.
(a) For children age ten and under, a permanency planning hearing shall be held in all cases where the child has remained in out-of-home care for at least nine months and an adoption decree or guardianship order has not previously been entered. The hearing shall take place no later than twelve months following commencement of the child's current placement episode.
(b) For children over age ten, a permanency planning hearing shall be held in all cases where the child has remained in out-of-home care for at least fifteen months and an adoption decree or guardianship order has not previously been entered. The hearing shall take place no later than eighteen months following commencement of the current placement episode.
(c) No later than ten working days before the permanency planning hearing, the department shall submit a written permanency plan to the court and shall mail a copy of the plan to all parties. The plan shall be directed toward securing a safe, stable, and permanent home for the child as soon as possible. The plan shall identify one of the following outcomes as the primary goal and may also identify additional outcomes as alternative goals: Return of the child to the home of the child's parent or legal guardian; adoption; guardianship; or long-term out-of-home care, until the child is age eighteen, with a written agreement between the parties and the child's care provider.
If a goal of long-term out-of-home care has been achieved before the permanency
planning hearing, the court shall review the child's status to determine
whether the placement and the plan for the child's care remains appropriate.
In cases where the primary permanency planning goal has not ((
been achieved, the court shall inquire regarding the reasons why the
primary goal has not been achieved and determine what needs to be done to make
it possible to achieve the primary goal.
(e) Following the first permanency planning hearing, the court shall hold a further permanency planning hearing in accordance with this section at least once every twelve months until a permanency planning goal is achieved or the voluntary placement agreement is terminated.
(6) Any party to the voluntary placement agreement may terminate the agreement at any time. Upon termination of the agreement, the child shall be returned to the care of the child's parent or legal guardian, unless the child has been taken into custody pursuant to RCW 13.34.050 or 26.44.050, placed in shelter care pursuant to RCW 13.34.060, or placed in foster care pursuant to RCW 13.34.130. The department shall notify the court upon termination of the voluntary placement agreement and return of the child to the care of the child's parent or legal guardian. Whenever a voluntary placement agreement is terminated, an action under this section shall be dismissed.
(7) This section does not prevent the department from filing a dependency petition if there is reason to believe that the child is a dependent child as defined in RCW 13.34.030. An action filed under this section shall be dismissed upon the filing of a dependency petition regarding a child who is the subject of the action under this section.
Sec. 4. RCW 74.13.021 and 1997 c 386 s 15 are each amended to read as follows:
As used in this chapter, "developmentally disabled ((
child" is a child who has a developmental disability as defined in RCW
71A.10.020 and whose parent, guardian, or legal custodian and with the department
mutually agree that services appropriate to the child's needs can not be
provided in the home.
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